Oregon Ducks at USC Trojans – December 18

Pac-12 Championship: No. 13 USC (5-0) vs. Oregon (3-2)


USC holds a 39-21-2 advantage in which Oregon has taken command in the last few years. The Ducks have won five of their last seven, six of their last nine and 11 of the last 18. Last season in Los Angeles, Oregon’s Justin Herbert threw three touchdown passes and the Ducks scored 28 points off of Trojans’ turnovers as they routed USC, 56-24. Defending Pac-12 champion Oregon is 3-0 in the Pac-12 title game as the Ducks flew past Utah, 37-15, a year ago. USC is 1-1 and is the Pac-12 South’s only winner as the Trojans bested Stanford, 31-28, in 2017.

It’s an abbreviated season in the Pac-12 due to COVID-19 as the Ducks replace the Washington Huskies due to covid protocols within the UW squad.

Playoff Mess:

To define how out of control and illegitimate the College Football Playoff is, No. 13 USC can finish at 6-0 and as the Pac-12 Champion and get no consideration next to a 6-0 Ohio State or a plethora of one or two loss teams. That said, when there is no inclusion for each of the 10 FBS playing conferences plus wild cards for deserving teams that may have a loss or two, a national championship becomes pseudo because it hinges on picks and favorites of a committee, not an actual playoff through an all-inclusive tournament.

Vs. The Spread:

The total has gone OVER in five of Oregon’s last seven games against USC as the Ducks has gone over OVER in four of Oregon’s last five games on the road.  Oregon is 14-3 SU in their last 17 games vs. Pac-12 competition. USC is 6-3 ATS in the Trojans’ last nine games and the total has gone UNDER in five of USC’s last seven games when playing at home against Oregon. The Trojans are also 8-0 SU in their last eight games vs. Pac-12 opponents.

Teams Spread Money Line Total Points
Oregon +3 (-118) +130 O 64½ (-110)
USC -3 (-102) -150 U 64½ (-110)

Last Week:

Trojans quarterback Kaden Slovis fired five touchdown passes and he found Amon-Ra St. Brown from eight yards out with 16 seconds left as USC passed UCLA, 43-38, in Pasadena. It was Slovis’ third game-winning drive of the season and it came after the Bruins had taken a 38-36 lead on a field goal with 52 seconds to play. St. Brown and Drake London had two touchdown receptions each to keep Troy perfect.

Oregon had its game with Washington canceled last week due to covid protocols within the Huskies program. The Ducks have lost two in a row in road outings at Oregon State and Cal. Turnovers destroyed the Ducks’ opportunities as they had five combined in both losses and they were also unable to turn over the Beavers and Bears and that limited opportunities..

When the Trojans Have the Ball:

USC Trojans LogoSlovis should be garnering Heisman Trophy consideration as well as he has ice water in his veins at being able to make the big plays in the clutch which drive Trojan wins. He has 10 touchdown passes against two picks in the last two weeks as he has completed 70.3 percent of his passes on the season. London and St. Brown are the top two receivers as London is a big-play threat in averaging 17.1 yards per catch. Watch wide receivers Tyler Vaughns and Bru McCoy as well as secondary options in the passing game. Since running back Vavae Malepeai has been downgraded to doubtful due to a knee injury, Markese Stepp and Stephen Carr will both have a chance to step up in the running game.

The Oregon defense features two active inside linebackers in Isaac Slade-Matuatia and Noah Sewell as well as defensive end Kayvon Thibideaux as they have combined total five of the Ducks’ nine quarterback sacks. Opponents have ran the ball with lots of success as Oregon gives up 184.2 yards rper night in the rushing game.

When the Ducks Have the Ball:

Oregon Duck Basketball LogoFreshman Tyler Shough has orchestrated an offense that is either first or second in the Pac-12 in seven different categories and is no less than 22nd in the nation in those as well.

These are the stats we are talking about:

  • Total offense 467.0
  • Yards per play 7.25
  • Third down conversions 49.09%
  • Passing offense 277.8
  • Yards per pass attempt 9.6
  • Passing efficiency 163.87
  • First downs per game 23.6

Shough is a dual threat quarterback who has rushed for 256 yards as well as accumulating 1,386 pass yards. He implements an offense that also takes advantage of Travis Dye and C.J. Verdell and their versatility in the running game. Dye is the only player in the Pac-12 to have over 300 yards rushing and 200 yards receiving. Shough throws down field to speedy Jaylon Redd and John Johnson, III, but Devon Williams averages 20.3 yards per catch on 13 receptions.

Defensively, the Trojans average nearly three takeaways per game as USC leads the “Conference of Champions” with eight as leading tackler Talanoa Hufanga had four of those. Drake Jackson and Nick Figueroa get up field well on the USC defensive front as Jackson leads Troy with 3.5 sacks. Of potential concern for USC is that UCLA put up as season-high 549 yards behind dual-threat quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson’s 364 passing and 50 on the ground.

Winner: USC (-3) 41, Oregon 34
Over-Under: Take OVER 64½

The Bets
USC -3
O 64½
Kenneth Cross / Author

Kenneth Cross is a new entry to The Sports Geek staff as he has 25 years of experience in print, broadcast, and internet sports journalism. Cross is a lover of all sports, but college basketball is his passion. He estimates that he has seen around 1,500 college basketball games - live and in-person - and hopes that grows this season. If you listen to Radio, you have likely heard him on Sundays covering the Carolina Panthers for some 20 years. Now in Tampa Bay, he works as a national radio correspondent.